TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter - June 2012
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TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter
June 2012 Edition
Focus on Wood - Bradford Pear

Flat Sawn

Quarter Sawn

End Grain

General Information:

Bradford pear trees are an ornamental variety of tree planted throughout the US.  The trees are a hybridized variety of the asian callery pear.  These trees grow relatively quickly, but rarely live beyond 30 years, meaning that larger, defect-free logs can be relatively difficult to locate.  The wood is very finely textured, and is excellent for both turning and carving.

Common Name(s):

Bradford pear


40 lbs/ft3 - Very dense, similar to hickory and pecan.


1660  lbft - Hard

Specific Gravity:


Turning Properties:

Turns very well, with very little dulling effect on tools. Rarely has any tendency to tear out across the end grain, and turns exceptionally well despite its hardness.  Due to its fine texture, Bradford pear is an exceptional choice for thin-walled turnings and/or items which require very fine details, such as in carvings.

Drying Properties:

Dries well, with moderate warping occurring during drying.  Contains a high initial moisture content when green, meaning that pieces may require additional time for drying in comparison to dryer or less dense woods.

Sanding Properties:

Sands very well.  For removing tool marks, 80 grit sandpaper is recommended.  Will sand to a naturally high luster, requiring grits of around 400-600 to achieve excellent results. 

Finishing Properties:

Readily accepts nearly any type of finish or stain


No known toxicities are known to exist for Bradford pear.

Turning Tutorials - Finishing Oily Woods

Finishing Oily Woods

Oily woods can pose a challenge when it comes to applying a finish to your nearly completed turning.  Some woods, such as eastern red cedar and cedar of Lebanon are good examples of items which we sometimes have in stock.  Many exotic woods, such as lignum vitae and rosewoods are other good examples.  To improve your chances of succeeding in finishing, here are a few tips to use when finishing your next project:

Avoid Oil Based Finishes -

Oil based finishes (such as natural oils, oil based polyurethane, and oil based varnishes) will typically adhere to oily woods, but usually do not dry properly.  The natural oils within the wood may slow down or nearly prevent an oil based finish from drying once applied.  Avoiding these types of finishes, and opting for another option, is usually the best choice.

Pretreat with Alcohol -

Regardless of the type of finish you choose to apply, it is wise to pre-treat the surface of the wood with alcohol before finishing.  Once a piece is sanded and ready for finishing, thoroughly clean the surface with a clean cloth.  Follow up by applying some sort of alcohol, such as acetone, laquer thinner, or denatured alcohol.  Treating the wood with alochol will help to remove some of the natural oils from the surface of the wood, which will help with adhesion and drying.  Make sure to apply your finish shortly after the alcohol has dried from the surface to ensure the best results.

Using Shellac -

Shellac is an excellent choice for finishing oily woods.  The alcohol contained within shellac helps the finish adhere to oily woods.  As a finishing touch, a coat of wax can be applied over the shellac.

Using Wax -

Wax is probably the easiest choice for finishing up oily woods.  Simply apply a coat or two of wax to your finished project, then buff the piece to the desired sheen.

All archived monthly newsletters do not include the following:

  • Business updates
  • Recently added woods and schedule of upcoming woods
  • Photo of the month contest results
  • Discounts and upcoming sales information

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  • Posted by: Mike Leigher
  • COMMENT BY: Mike Leigher
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Comments (2)
Comments by Mike Leigher June 05, 2015

Blackbeered, thanks for the comment. You are correct. I typically list the specific gravity of the woods at 12%MC, as it is the more standard measurement found when doing research. In the case of the Bradford pear, I believe I had to take the data from two different resources, and did not notice the discrepancy. Thanks so much for the correction! The correct specific gravity should be closer to about 0.61-0.63. There can be quite a bit of variance in this wood, however, because Bradford pear trees are commonly grafted onto other species of fruit woods to establish new plants. The host tree which is used to establish the root system seems to affect, to some degree, the qualities of the pear tree which grows from it afterwards.

Comments by Blackbeered May 15, 2015

Bradford Pear - data inconsistent.

Can’t have a density of 40 lbs/cu ft while having a sp gr of 0.51 [since sp gr = density/62.4].

Also, it’s very important to the woodworker to know at what moisture level the density is referenced. Is it at “air dried” 20%?